Payin' for my sins

By AL DIAMON  |  April 15, 2009

This same approach could be applied to taxing any number of bottom-feeding activities, from mixed-martial arts — a bill to legalize beating the crap out of people for fun and profit is up for debate in the Legislature, so why not soak the proto-sport’s brain-damaged fans for a few extra bucks on every ticket they buy — to canned hunting — a measure to ban enclosed game-shooting farms was shot down (ouch!) this session, but could be revived and amended to include an unsportsmanlike-conduct tax, an levy on displaying an undeserved trophy (would that be a taxidermy tax?), and an entirely voluntary contribution to the state treasury in return for our pledge not to have all your pals back in New York City receive an official letter from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife explaining how you really got that buck.

Also, I could see some advantages to combining the two bills just mentioned into one bloodthirsty — and taxable — event, and that’s even before we start negotiating our share of the take from pay-per-view.

Unfortunately, none of my ideas has been included in the only tax-reform bill with any chance of passing this year. This anemic product of compromise, caution, and cowardice is sponsored by Democratic House Majority Leader John Piotti of Unity. It would lower the income tax — although not enough — broaden the sales tax — although not enough — and raise the meals and lodging taxes — just enough to cause lots of whining from restaurant and hotel owners.

For all its faults (and if Maine had a fault tax, this bill would balance the budget all by itself), Piotti’s plan is still superior to that put forward by Republican legislators, which calls for a cap on the annual increase in state spending (state spending is actually declining) and requires all excess sales-tax revenue be used to lower the income tax (excess revenues are about as common in Maine at the moment as politically savvy Republicans).

What this state needs is to impose a substantial penalty on bills that promise relief they can’t deliver.

We could call it the tax-reform tax.

You can e-mail me at aldiamon@herniahill.net but it’ll cost you.

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